To the Editor:
What happened to the amazing Roosevelt Island Marlins?
Before the Sportspark pool was closed last winter, things were different. There were friends, team get-togethers, camaraderie, and recognition for kids of all levels. The Marlins used to operate like a happy family.
Today the club is focused on competition. Only a handful of the team members are recognized. There are big egos involved, and parents fear saying the wrong thing while sitting in the bleachers watching their kids’ swim. Many of us now feel that the Board is watching us, and the wrong word can get you expelled from the Marlins (including its learn-to-swim classes).
It isn’t right. The Marlins are a not-for-profit team and a swimming program with 501(c)(3) status. As a non-profit tax-exempt organization, it is unreasonable to fear being singled out or expelled if you are a chatty parent, or even a “think different than us” parent. What happened to our fun neighborhood swim program?
This mis-government and greed for power and exclusivity has caused the team to shrink. Since last May, 30 team members have either been cut or have quit. That translates to about 60% of the team size before Coach Roman arrived. It is greedy to use limited team resources to benefit a few team members with scholarships and/or deep discounts rather than to offer them to Island families in need of a scholarship so their children can learn to swim. After all, it is more beneficial to teach a kid to swim than to win a medal.
This greed also affects the Learn to Swim (LTS) program, which is being used like the goose that lays the golden eggs. Why? Because with a shrinking swim team, the LTS program is the only financial way to pay for the team’s pool time, coaches’ salaries, and coaches’ bonuses.
It’s been a long time since monthly fees for the competitive swim team have increased. Yet, the LTS monthly fees rose this past January. Additionally, while LTS members can swim only two or four hours weekly, the competitive team swims between six to ten total hours per week, not including dry-land training outside the pool. You may think that those with the most pool time pay the most, but it is the other way around! The less you swim, the more you pay. For 2 hours per week, LTS members pay $180 per month. Members of the senior team pay $170 monthly for 9.45 hours of swimming per week plus two hours of dry-land training per week. That is almost five times as much swimming and it costs $10 less.
According to court documents, coach Roman is the head coach, but the team has three to four coaches all together. As you can see, the parents of the LTS program are paying not only for the cost of their class, and the rental of the pool, but also the salaries of the coaches of the swim team.
Not only that, but at least half of the swim team are not Roosevelt Island residents but reside in Queens or Manhattan. This matters because the Marlins have prime pool time and pay resident prices to lease Sportspark from RIOC. But now it seems that they only care to serve and give scholarships to non-residents, to focus only on the team, and to keep LTS (who are 90% RI residents) as their own personal bank.
Why do Queens and Manhattan residents who did not participate in the Marlins LTS program, come to join the competitive swim team? Because it cost waaaay less than any other program in Queens and Manhattan. I’ll also point out that, until last week, no one on the current board had any LTS children. It is their greed and mutual exploitation of LTS parents to fulfill their dreams of having Roman coaching their children in their dwindling swim team, that seems to be now a semi-private team.
So parents, please think, speak up and, most importantly, vote to choose a new board. Choose some of the new faces who are interested in the whole team, not just their own interest.